GCHQ has been censured by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) for contravening human rights law by failing to reveal information about how it shares surveillance data with the US.
In its first ruling against an intelligence agency, the IPT found that GCHQ failed to make clear how it shared data from mass internet surveillance with its US counterparts until December 2014, when it disclosed more information.
Before December, the IPT said:
“The regime governing the soliciting, receiving, storing and transmitting by UK authorities of private communications of individuals located in the UK, which have been obtained by US authorities pursuant to Prism and… Upstream, contravened articles 8 or 10 [of the European Convention of Human Rights – the rights of privacy and freedom of expression].”
In December, GCHQ said that British intelligence services were permitted to request data gathered by their US counterparts through mass surveillance systems such as Prism, with a warrant usually required to make such a request.
The tribunal said that the agency is now considered compliant.